Posted by Jack | in CAO | on 10 Aug 2013 | at 2:45 PM | 2884 views
I admit that I have avoided most of the cigar from CAO over the past few years due to some bland blends and construction issues here and there.  In short, they just didn't do it for me.  I have seen some nice reviews of the Concert series which I have yet to try.  Over the years I have enjoyed the Italia, Brazilia, the excellent La Traviata, and the superior Sopranos line.  The newest release is the hot-rod inspired Flathead series.  Boxes for them are machined to look like something very automobilesque (is that a word?).  I guess it could also bring up thoughts of the Harley Davidson Flathead engine.  Jordan at the Wharf gave me a really attractive sample of the 554 Camshaft.  How is it?  Let's see....
Construction: The Flathead is a very nice looking cigar.  The band alone is worth a look.  Very retro 1940s look with tons of chrome.  My first thought was the grille on a 1941 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan.  The wrapper is a nice dark brown leaning towards black.  Not many veins present and the oils are nicely present giving the cigar a nice rustic sheen.  There is also a nice tooth to the wrapper leaf.  Overall a very nice presentation.
Pre-light Aroma and Draw: Leather and a sweet floral note emit from the wrapper and the foot gives off some sweet cocoa flavors.  Upon cutting the flat cap I noted a minor construction mishap.  The wrapper started to unfurl.  Maybe a punch or wedge cut would be better for this specific shape.
Light and Burn: Somehow I managed to light the 554 with matches outside.  The burn started out a bit worrisome but it adjusted to a nice even burn line.  The ash is white and little flaky.  I did have a minor hot spot in the middle of the cigar but that is often the case with heavy Connecticut broadleaf wrappers.
Tasting: Starting off the Flathead gives a nice array of cocoa and black pepper.
The first third is rich and quite dense in terms of body and flavor.  I am getting a heavy dose of leather, cocoa, some cream, and a core of earth that is terrific.  The black pepper is in there as a minor hint only.  Something for which I am glad in this case.  Strength leans towards medium full.
Into the second third boosts the leather and earthy core with a nice sweet finish containing floral and cedar notes.  The strength has backed off to a strong medium now.  The more I smoke broadleaf cigars the more I find I like them.  They always offer a nice flavor profile that never fails to surprise.  We can thank General Israel Putnam for introducing Cuban tobacco to Connecticut in the 1700's bringing about broadleaf.
The final third bumps back up towards medium full and continues that heavy earth core with cocoa and a touch of pepper.  I am also getting a smattering of black coffee in there too.  Very good cigar.
Value: The MSRP is about $7.25 for this excellent cigar.  Totally worth a try of five at that price.
Final Thoughts: I can easily say that this is the best CAO offering in years.  Plenty of flavor and complexity and not just a pretty face.  I love the vintage design and overall feel of the cigar.  If you are like me and tend to avoid CAO as a big name brand of run-of-the-mill cigars, I suggest you try this one out.  Their blender, Rick Rodriguez has done a great job.  Highly recommended.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Size: 5.5 x 54 box pressed
Very nice looking presentation
There is that vintage band and the 41 Caddy I mentioned
Well done box press
The Flathead's flat head....
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